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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

US Americans Relocate for Romance and the Good Life

Many US American expats move abroad to live in their partner’s home country or for love, and over 40% feel they will stay abroad forever.
  • 44% potentially want to stay abroad forever.
  • 17% moved abroad for love.
  • The cost of living abroad was considered a benefit before moving by 53%.
  • 74% feel at home in their respective host country.
  • 23% are retired.

New Adventures and Improved Quality of Life

Over a third of US American respondents (35%) are currently living abroad for the first time, compared to the survey average of 28%. Despite a lack of previous expat experience, US expats seem to be truly enjoying life abroad — over two in five (44%) state that they are planning to stay abroad possibly forever, compared to just 32% among all respondents worldwide.

While love is the most frequently mentioned motivation for relocating (17%), about one in eleven US expats (9%) say that a better quality of life was their main reason for moving abroad. In fact, almost half the expats from the US (49%) say they considered healthcare standards a potential benefit before relocating, compared to the average of 40%. It is therefore no surprise that a staggering 47% completely agree that healthcare in their respective host country is affordable compared to the worldwide average of 27%.

In fact, among foreign nationals who have moved to the US, a staggering 68% rate the affordability of healthcare negatively, compared to the global average of just 24% — the consensus seems to be that medical care in the US is not always affordable.

Not Yet Mastering the Language

Among US American expats, a majority of 89% speak the local language of their host country at least a little, and 22% even state that they speak it very well: however, this is still five percentage points below the global average (27%).

Over one in eight respondents from the US (13%) did say that improving their language skills was a reason for moving abroad, highlighting some desire to learn a new language. Yet, just 1% state that the prospect of improving their language proficiency was the main reason for choosing to relocate.

Americans Follow Their Hearts Abroad

Education (3%) and language skills are not the most pressing reasons why US Americans decide to move abroad. Instead, it seems they are really romantics at heart: as mentioned above, about one in six (17%) moved abroad for love or to live in their partner’s home country, compared to 12% globally.

It is hardly surprising then that 50% of US expats in a committed relationship are romantically involved with a partner from their current country of residence. At the same time, 39% of US expats in a romantic relationship met their significant other in their new host country — finding love abroad seems to be no challenge for them. In fact, a majority of 87% are satisfied with their relationship, just slightly more than the global average (85%).

Lower Incomes but Lower Cost of Living

However, when it comes to working abroad, this may not be as lucrative for US American expats as one would like: 44% state that their income is lower in their host country than it would be in a comparable position in the US, 17 percentage points above the global average of 27%. This result may be somewhat surprising, given that an above-average proportion of US American expats are highly qualified: 10% have a PhD, compared to the worldwide average of 7%.

However, when rating the cost of living in their respective host country, over one in four (27%) agree that the cost of living is very affordable, compared to just 16% globally. In fact, 53% of US American expats considered the cost of living abroad a potential benefit before moving — while incomes may be lower abroad, so are living expenses.

Retiring Oversees and Working Flexibly

Nearly a quarter of US American expats (23%) describe their current employment status as retiree, compared to the global average of 11%. This may also explain why the average age of expats from the US is 51.5 years, 7.3 years above the survey average.

Among those who are still working, 15% describe themselves as teachers, academic staff, or researchers; this is obviously linked to the finding that close to three in ten US American expats (29%) work in education, including language education, compared to an average of 14% worldwide. Similarly, US respondents are overrepresented in the arts (5% vs. 3% globally), with 7% saying that they are freelancers, such as writers, designers, or artists.

Compared to the survey average of 16%, 22% of American expats work part time, which might be connected to the above-average proportion of freelancers or to the higher share of older expatriates.

Finding Friends Is Easy as Pie

US Americans do not seem to struggle with settling in: 74% agree that they feel at home abroad, ten percentage points more than the global average (64%). Similarly, expats from the US don’t seem to have many problems meeting new people and making new friends, including local friends. In general, 64% believe that making new friends in their host country is not a problem. Over half (53%) also agree that it is easy to find local friends in their new country of residence, while almost three in ten (28%) describe their friends and acquaintances as mostly local residents, compared to the global average of 19%.

However, while 81% are generally satisfied with their life abroad, 56% of those who are unhappy say that not having a personal support network in their host country contributes to this unhappiness, ten percentage points above the global average (46%).

Further Reading